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Titanium 3D Printed Vertebra—Used on A Boy For The First Time Ever

Paige Anne Carter


blog-0590444001413319255.jpgAt the Peking University Orthopedics Department, Dr. Liu Zhongjun spearheaded the project for a 3D printed vertebral implant for a 12 year old boy needing an orthopedic spine surgery.

Minghao, 12 year old boy patient, experienced a neck injury while playing soccer. After subsequent examinations, the he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer known medically as Ewing’s sarcoma. In the second vertebra of the spine was a growing tumor that needed to be removed and replaced. This portion of the bone helps support the body and protect the spine.

In a conventional treatment, the boy’s vertebra would have to be replaced by cement and a hollow titanium tube is attached with the help of screws. At the best of circumstances, the tube does not fit, recovery takes several months plus the boy faces a slight risk that the titanium tube can jam into bones or slip out of place.

But with the onset of 3D Printing, Dr. Zhongjun was able to use a 3D printed spine of Minghao. From there, the team made a 3D printed titanium implant with a precise fit. This implant is way stronger than the conventional cement vertebra and would allow the child to recover quickly from the surgery. What’s great about the 3D printed titanium replacement implant is that it is made with tiny pores that allow natural bone to grow through it and allow the artificial spine to merge naturally with the child’s real spine.

One month after the surgery, Minghao is reportedly doing well.


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